Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Big price, little buzz for 2014 Ford Tremor

The 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor, the first EcoBoost-powered sport truck, will lead the field to the green flag at the always-fast Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Michigan National Guard 200 on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2014. (Ford/MCT)
The 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor, the first EcoBoost-powered sport truck, will lead the field to the green flag at the always-fast Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Michigan National Guard 200 on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2014. (Ford/MCT) MCT

(MCT) -- Call it an F-150-minus, but with a plus-sized price.

Ford introduced its 2014 Tremor sport truck to generate buzz as the current F-150 pickup enters its last few months of production, and perhaps as a preemptive strike against the new midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups General Motors will introduce this fall.

The Tremor uses the chassis of Ford's F-150 full-size pickup, but its body style - short wheelbase, short cargo bed and two-seat regular cab - means it's only about five inches longer than midsize pickups like the Canyon, Colorado and Toyota Tacoma.

The short-wheelbase, regular cab Ford serves as a reminder of how much full-size pickups have grown as automakers added models, features and room with long wheelbases, rear seats and four doors.

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  • That makes the Tremor delightfully easy to park, but the truck struggles with an outsized price.

    Tremors start at $36,645 for a rear-drive model. A 360-hp twin-turbo 3.5L V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission are standard. Four-wheel-drive models start at $40,760.

    I tested a rear-drive Tremor with voice recognition, navigation, sporty bucket seats, Bluetooth compatibility and more. It stickered at $41,015. All prices exclude destination charges.

    The Tremor's price is thousands of dollars higher than the Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. GM hasn't announced prices for the new Colorado and Canyon, but it's reasonable to assume they, too, will cost less than the Tremor.

    Dismayingly, Tremor prices can rapidly approach those of Ford's own spectacular F-150 Raptor pickup, which has a 6.2L V8, more power - 411 horsepower, 434 lb.-ft. of torque - an off-road suspension, four doors and a rear seat. Raptor prices start at $44,995, which never seemed like a bargain until the Tremor came along.

    Good deals are available, though. Typing "Ford Tremor price" into Google quickly led me to Long McArthur Ford in Salina, Kan., which advertised a $43,859 Tremor with an out-the-door price of $36,074 - "instant savings: $7,785." Other ads consistently promised prices thousands below sticker.

    Decals, sport seats, 20-inch wheels and tubular black running boards dressed up the exterior of my truck. The interior featured sporty bucket seats with black cloth and red trim. Excellent voice recognition, a touch screen, simple controls and big legible gauges make the interior easy to use, but hard plastic trim on the doors and dash seems out of place in a small pickup priced over $40,000.

    The lack of features such as memory for the driver's settings, heated seats and steering wheel were disappointing at this price.

    The Tremor has more power than the midsize pickups, but it falls short of expectations raised by its claim to be a "sport truck." Its V6 is powerful, but hardly racy, and the pickup's steering and suspension didn't get any upgrades for ride and handling.

    The engine delivers its power smoothly, with 420 lb.-ft. of torque available from just 2,500 rpm. The Tremor has more horsepower and torque than any of the midsize pickups. The six-speed transmission is smooth and quick.

    The drivetrain delivers 16 m.p.g. in the city, 22 on the highway and 18 in combined driving on the EPA test cycle. That's as good or better than the smaller and less-powerful Ridgeline, Frontier and Tacoma. Fuel economy ratings for the new Chevy and GMC aren't available yet.

    The Tremor's 8,000-pound towing capacity significantly exceeds the Nissan, Honda and Toyota.

    The Tremor's efficiency and advanced, useful controls are appealing, but the price and lack of some fairly ordinary features ultimately make the truck disappointing.

    In the end, Ford's new sport truck doesn't live up to its racy looks and earthshaking name.

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    BEHIND THE WHEEL

    2014 Ford F-150 Tremor FX2

    Four-wheel-drive, two-passenger pickup

    Price as tested: $41,015 (excluding destination charge)

    Rating: 2 (Out of four stars)

    Reasons to buy: Easy to park; power; looks; towing capacity

    Shortcomings: Price; interior fit and materials

    COMPETITIVE EPA FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS

    (Automatic transmission, rear-wheel-drive models unless otherwise noted)

    Ford F-150 Tremor FX2: 16 m.p.g./22/18. Regular gasoline.

    2015 Chevrolet Colorado: TBD. Regular gasoline.

    2015 GMC Canyon: TBD. Regular gasoline.

    Honda Ridgeline SE AWD: 15/21/17. Premium gasoline.

    Nissan Frontier SL SWB: 16/22/18. Regular gasoline.

    Toyota Tacoma access cab V6 4wd: 16/21/18. Regular gasoline.

    Source: www.fueleconomy.gov

    Comparative base prices (excluding destination charges)

    (Automatic transmission, rear-wheel-drive models unless otherwise noted)

    Ford F-150 Tremor FX2: $36,645

    2015 Chevrolet Colorado: Not available.

    2015 GMC Canyon: Not available.

    Honda Ridgeline SE AWD: $37,505

    Nissan Frontier SL SWB: $31,210

    Toyota Tacoma access cab V6 4wd: $26,885

    Source: Autotrader.com

    2014 FORD F-150 TREMOR FX2

    Specifications as tested

    Engine: 3.5L twin-turbo DOHC V6

    Power: 365 hp @ 5,000 rpm; 420 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500 rpm

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    EPA fuel economy rating: 16 m.p.g. city/22 highway/18 combined. Regular gasoline

    Dimensions

    Wheelbase: 125.9 inches

    Length: 213.2 inches

    Width: 79.2 inches

    Height: 74.8 inches

    Curb Weight: 5,375 lbs.

    Where assembled: Dearborn

    KEY FEATURES ON VEHICLE TESTED

    Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control; Front seat mounted side air bags; curtain air bags; keypad entry; automatic crash notification; privacy glass; fog lights; locking removable tailgate; spare tire; power windows; locks and mirrors; air conditioning; auxiliary input jack; cruise control; power driver seat; voice recognition; Sirius satellite radio; manual tilt/telescoping steering column; 12v and 110v power outlets; automatic headlights; capless fuel filler; hill start assist; trailer sway control; towing package.

    Options: 20-inch tires and painted aluminum wheels; power adjustable pedals; CD player; high-intensity headlights; navigation system; remote start; bed extender; tailgate step; rearview camera; trailer brake control; reverse sensing system; black tubular running boards; spray-in bed liner.

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    Mark Phelan Detroit Free Press